Hundred-Year-Old Rubber Boot Advertisement

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, December 14, 1911: Oh dear! I do wish it would snow. I’m getting tired of tramping through the mud all the time. Get provoked at a problem in Arith. It looked so easy, but I couldn’t get it. I’ll try tomorrow again and perhaps I’ll succeed.

Men probably wore boots like this when tramping around the farm through the mud. Grandma probably had galoshes that she pulled over her shoes. (Source:  Kimball’s Dairy Farmer Magazine, September 15, 1911)


Sloshing around in wet and mud is no fun, but a pair of good, stout rubber boots, which you always depend on, makes it a lot easier.

Get the easy, comfortable, long-wearing kind—the



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[An aside–I can’t even imagine a company today advertising that a pair of boots might last 28 years. I guess that some things were just made better a hundred years ago!]

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Yuck—the mud sounds awful. This is the third time that Grandma’s mentioned mud in her December diary entries . . . and the eleventh time that she’s mentioned it since she began the diary in January 1911.

(If you would like to read her previous entries on this topic—type the word mud into the search box near the top of this page.)

Mud was a huge problem a hundred years ago.  There would have muddy areas between the house and barn on the farm.  And, the roads, both in McEwensville and the surrounding rural areas, were not yet paved in 1911.

What Was the Teacher’s Last Name?

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Tuesday, December 12, 1911: Jake says we have to study harder. It seems to me such tiresome work, but I suppose I could if I tried hard enough. I guess I staid up longer tonight than I did last night, although it is not so very late now.

Lots of resources--none of which answer my question.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

I’m continually amazed how many mysteries about Grandma’s life as a teen-ager I’ve been able to resolve (at least to my own satisfaction) with a little research. However, occasionally I’m totally baffled by things that I feel like I should be able to figure out. Today is one of those days–.

What was Jake’s last name?

The History of the McEwensville Schools by Thomas Kramm indicates that the teacher during the 1910-11 school year was Howard Northrop; and that there were two teachers during the 1911-12 school year—Howard Northrop and D. Forest Dunkle.  And, Leon Hagenbuch in his History of McEwensville lists the same teachers. I suppose they both used the same source—sigh.

I’m not getting anything close to Jake out of those names –but maybe Howard went by a nickname. Grandma’s referred to her teacher several times in the diary as Jake or Jakie. I wonder if she called him Jake to his face or it he was Mr. ____.

Jake seems to be very young for a teacher and almost one of the gang. For example, in the fall Grandma and other girls teased him about drawing a picture of a diamond ring, and the previous winter he fell through the ice while skating one evening with students.

Another 1911 Christmas Gift Idea: Make a Handbag

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, December 11, 1911: Nothing much to write about.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Since Grandma didn’t write much today, I’ll share some more photos of Christmas gift ideas from the 1911 issue of Ladies Home Journal.

“Girl’s handy bag for school. It is crocheted of mercerized thread and lined with heavy green linen.”

(An aside—I love this bag. I had one that looked almost like it when I was in junior high. I think that a great aunt made it for me—though I can’t remember with certainty which one.

“A Japanese silk handkerchief was used to make this pretty bag. The handles are embroidery hoops.”

Craft Idea: Make an Old-Fashioned Paper Christmas Tree

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Friday, December 8, 1911: Had such a vexatious time with Jimmie. He fell down in the mud at noon and he was covered from top to toe, but I succeeded in making a slight improvement on him. Then coming home he lost one of his rubbers and I had to go back after it.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

The primary school was on the first floor of the McEwensville School building–and the high school was on the second floor. Grandma’s 6-year-old brother Jimmie was a first grader at the school. I suppose someone came upstairs and got her when Jimmie got muddy.

Little brothers can be a pain sometimes—but Grandma probably also sometimes did fun things with Jimmie. Maybe Grandma helped Jimmie make Christmas crafts.

Here are directions to make a paper Christmas tree.

Fold two sheets of green construction paper together and cut out 2 Christmas trees.

Unfold the trees and staple together on the fold. (A hundred years ago, they may have sewed the trees together on the fold.)

Cut “decorations” out of the old Christmas cards and glue on the tree. Glue the small buttons on the tree to make ornaments (Don’t use too many or the tree might get top-heavy and not stand properly.)

Stand the tree up, and use a small piece of decorative cord or other bric-a-brac to make a garland.

(An aside–One thing that I really like about the old days is how people routinely re-purposed items that were around the house to make decorations.)

1911 Advertisements for Christmas Gifts

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, December 6, 1911: Have my part of the dialogue well under way. You may think I’m smart, but I haven’t much to say. I’m commencing to get streaks of thinking what I’ll buy for Xmas presents. My pocketbook is limited so I’ll have to make a careful list beforehand.

Maybe Grandma thought about buying bracelets for her sisters. (Ad Source: A portion of a Merry Mason Company  advertisement in The Youth’s Companion, December 7, 1911)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma was memorizing a dialogue for a school “entertainment” that was to be held before the Christmas break.

Let’s see—Grandma probably needed to buy gifts for at least seven people: her mother, her father, her sister Ruth, her little brother Jimmie, her married sister Besse, her brother-in-law Curt, and her best friend Carrie Stout.  Whew, I can see how that it could be expensive.

How about slippers for brother-in-law Curt? (Ad source: Ladies Home Journal, December, 1911)

In many ways the young woman who wrote the diary seems very different from the elderly grandmother that I remember—but this is one place where I can really recognize my grandmother. She always worried about money and I can picture her carefully planning what she would purchase before she went shopping.

And, maybe a glass candle holder for Mother? (Ad source: Ladies Home Journal, December, 1911)

Hundred-Year-Old Alarm Clock Ad

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, December 4, 1911: Pa took us to school this morning. Such a time as I had waiting on him, but we got there in plenty of time. You see our old clock was the cause of it all, being over half an hr. fast.   

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Maybe the family needed to get a Big Ben clock for Christmas. The December 15, 1911 issue of Kimball’s’ Dairy Farmer magazine had an alarm clock advertisement.

The ad text says:

Big Ben

Merry Christmas! Here is Big Ben.

May he wish you many of them!

Don’t waste a minute of this merry day. Have the presents ready Christmas eve. Hang each stocking up. Arrange the presents that won’t go inside in little piles around each stocking.

Then when all have gone to sleep, sneak into each bedroom a joy-faced Big Ben.

He’ll ring the merriest Christmas bell you have ever heard and get the family down to see the presents bright and early so the whole day will be yours to fully enjoy.

Big Ben is a gift worth the giving, for he is a clock that lasts and serves you daily year after year.

He is not merely an alarm clock—he’s an efficient timepiece—to get you up or to tell you the time all day—a clock for bedroom, parlor, library or hall.

Big Ben stands seven inches tall. He’s massive, well poised, triple plated. His face is frank, open, easy to read—his keys large, strong, easy to wind.

He calls you every day at any time you say, steadily for ten minutes, or at repeated intervals for fifteen.

He is sold by jewelers only—the price is $2.50 anywhere.

If you cannot find him at your jeweler’s, a money order sent to his designers, Westclox, La Salle, Illinois, will bring him to you express charges paid.

Had to Walk Home in the Snow

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Sunday, December 3, 1911: Went to Sunday School this afternoon. Coming home it was snowing and I was rather dubious as to whether my new hat would take it all right or not, but it did.

Source: National Climatic Data Center

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

It sounds like a blustery winter day. I found the weather data for December, 1911 for Williamsport, Pennsylvania on the National Climatic Data Center website.

Williamsport is about 20 miles northwest of McEwensville. According to the observation sheet, on December 3, 1911 the high was 46 degrees and the low was 31. It also indicated that there was a trace of snow  and that the wind was coming from the southwest.

The sheet said that there was 3 inches of snow on the ground—which seems somewhat surprising because the previous day’s entry did not indicate any snow on the ground.

Williamsport is across a mountain from McEwensville—so maybe the weather wasn’t as bad there as it was where Grandma was walking. But I wouldn’t expect there to be major differences in the weather between the two towns (and in general I think that it would be a little warmer in McEwenville).

I suppose that it really was just a raw day with some snow flurries—but that the mile or so walk between the church in McEwensville and the Muffly farm was pretty miserable (especially if you were worried that your new hat might get ruined).